Berkeley Becomes First City To Divest From Border Wall Companies

The Bay Area city won't do business with government contractors that work on Donald Trump's pet project.
Anti-Trump protests spread through Berkeley after the presidential election.
Anti-Trump protests spread through Berkeley after the presidential election.
Elijah Nouvelage / Reuters

Berkeley, California, has become the first U.S. city to yank investments and business dealings with any company aiming to work on President Donald Trump’s Mexican border wall.

The Berkeley City Council unanimously passed a resolution this week that divests the Bay Area city from any company that builds, designs, helps finance or does any other work to construct or maintain the $4.1 billion border wall planned by the president. Berkeley also will cease doing business with those companies.

“Our city is one that is known for breaking down walls, not building them,” Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin said at the meeting when the resolution was passed, reported the East Bay Express. “We will continue in that tradition regardless of what happens at the federal level.”

It wasn’t immediately clear if Berkeley holds investments in companies that will build the wall. The city will “examine the existing companies it does business with and find ways to disengage from companies found to be participating in the construction of a wall,” a document accompanying the resolution says. “The city must vet companies before entering into new contracts.”

“Hatred and xenophobia have once more gained currency in our country,” the city said in a statement. “Therefore, it is our duty to uphold and promote values of inclusion [and] shared prosperity.”

Berkeley’s statement also notes that Trump’s border wall would cause “harm and stigma” to Latinos in California and would “waste ... taxpayer money, hurt the environment, contribute to climate change, divide ancestral native lands, disrupt tribal communities, increase international tensions, and reinforce failed Cold War policies of isolationism and exclusion.”

Some two dozen Bay Area businesses — including construction companies and high-tech surveillance operations — responded to a pre-solicitation notice last month by the Department of Homeland Security expressing interest in work related to the wall.

Oakland and San Francisco are considering similar laws. Arreguin said he thinks nearby Richmond will pass a measure much like Berkeley’s. Similar legislation has also been discussed in the Illinois and New York legislatures.

Berkeley also is discussing whether to cut ties with Wells Fargo bank, which has helped finance construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

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